In college, like a whole lot of people, I spent a whole lot of time trying to figure out what the point in learning about the Ming dynasty was, or why I should care about ancient philosophy, or why the social patterns of migrating Eskimos were relevant to my future expected life of building and managing websites, systems and software.
But it all was, and it all is, a framework for inspiration, it just does not click with everyone who takes it. A big part of why I believe the college experience is such an integral part of life is because it’s a 4 year experiment in finding the things and people that inspire us. By adding structure to wayward nature of the ever expanding universe of knowledge, it makes inspiration digestable and obtainable. College plants these roots of inspiration.
To me, inspiration is the trigger for the deeper search for knowledge, for the absorption of information, and, most importantly, the sorting of logical vs illogical, fake vs real, and usable vs important. I believe part of brains are a “soup”, with a combination of emotion, fact, fiction and history, swimming with ideas and solutions. A combination of all of the things that have come before this moment, right now.
In the other part of our minds live empty hooks waiting to be filled with ideas. Philosophies. Stories. Human history. Solutions. Questions.
The “ah ha moment” is when the ideas from this brain soup get hung on the empty hooks in our minds. The moment when you feel like you’ve been there before, and suddenly, the course of your life changes, an answer comes out of nowhere and it just “feels right.” We all have these moments; they are personal and evolutionary changes, both small and large. “I don’t know” to “I know”. “I can’t” to “I can”. “I get it”. The “ah ha moment” instantly makes everything that became before it seem distant, the struggle to discover seem worth it, the difficulty seem easy, and provides the basis and answers for moving forward.
My biggest “ah ha moment” came out of escapes — escape of following in prior footsteps, escape from a boring existence, escape from being merely “average”, combined with a drive to fill my mind with knowledge.
I’ve always been a creative individual, in fact, I was destined to be a “writer”, for whatever that meant, for my elementary and junior high years were full of teachers making comments about the quality of my writing and my “imagination”. And I grew up in a family that was middle-class, and had never had a college graduate until me, and so the future was very much unclear.
And then, my brother, started to tinker with soldering irons and motherboards, and before I knew it, I was hooked on “computers”. Technology just seemed to come to me, I appreciated it’s structure and logical sensibilities, I appreciated the fact that hardware had rules. And I wanted to learn more more about how they worked.
What became most fascinating of all was how computers could be used to create. To discover. To learn. To socialize. Fascinating that images could be digital and editable and manipulatable. Fascinating, how I could put together a document, a “webpage”, that I could express myself in, that could be seen by people around the world. It was the way I could take this love of writing and communicating and mix it with my new found love of technology. The Web was the answer. It was the biggest “ah ha moment” of them all.
So, when it became time to go to college, it was never a question that I should go, but it was a tough decision to define the “why”. I went into college “undecided”, because I wasn’t completely sure, but as I mentioned, college provided the foundation for inspiration. I knew I’d made the right choice. But I also knew, that I didn’t want to be defined by any one thing either. I knew I’d loved history and stories. At that point, few people were teaching “web” courses, fewer still were expert at it. So, given the choice between “computers” and “communication”, “computers” seemed to provide a wider array of opportunities. The writing could come later.
And the adventures this “ah ha moment” have provided me simply amazing opportunities to learn more about just about anything that could be imagined, to meet most of my best friends in the world, to have an opportunity to write again. I teach, I learn, I grow and I share. And all of this, I owe to “the Web”.
My advice — fill your mind with the gifts and fruits of inspiration. Learn as much as you possibly can about things that inspire you. Take a chance on the world, that could change your life. You may never know where it will take you.